Sen. Orrin Hatch has apologized after calling Obamacare supporters “the stupidest, dumbass people I’ve ever met” during a speech on tax reform Thursday — a remark that came less than a year after he asked for more civility in politics.
In a written statement, the Utah Republican said it was a “poorly worded joke” that was “not reflective of my actual feelings towards my friends on the other side.”
“Throughout my term of service, I have always recognized the importance of civility, particularly in engaging with those of different political perspectives,” Hatch said Friday. “While I occasionally slip up, I believe that my legislative record reflects my commitment to bipartisanship and civility much more than my flippant, off-the-cuff comment.”
Speaking at the conservative American Enterprise Institute on Thursday, the seven-term senator had praised the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed in December, for eliminating the penalty for not having insurance under President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law.
“[Congress], finally, did away with the individual mandate tax that was established under that wonderful bill called Obamacare. Now, if you didn’t catch on, I was being very sarcastic,” Hatch said to laughs from the audience.
“That was the stupidest, dumbass bill that I’ve ever seen. Now some of you may have loved it. If you do, you are one of the stupidest, dumbass people I’ve ever met.”
It was perhaps the first public flub since the senator encouraged politicians to be more respectful and considerate about eight months ago. “The first step,” the senator wrote in June, “is to speak responsibly.”
Before that, though, Hatch chided Democrats in January for acting “like idiots.” In 2014, he called his opponents “straight old dumbass liberals.” And in 2005, he said Utahns who protested President George W. Bush were “nutcakes.”
The senator, who will retire at the end of this year, also recently apologized to the ex-wives of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter for accusing them of being “character assassins that would attempt to sully a man’s good name” after they came forward with allegations of domestic violence.